Sunday, December 21, 2008

This Week In Sledding

The great outdoors do not figure into my definition of an ideal day in any meaningful way.

Oh, sure, they make a pleasant backdrop in the window when I am comfortably ensconced in my chair, book in one hand and mug of tea in the other. And, of course, they are what one has to travel through to get from one such indoor place of books and tea to another. But beyond that, I tend to leave them to others.

This is not possible with kids, though. Especially when it is sledding season.

The girls love sledding and it's an infections sort of love, strong enough to carry me along at least for a while. We have a pair of dual-function rafts/sleds that we keep inflated in the garage for occasions such as these, and yesterday there was an interval of relative warmth before the bottom fell out of the thermometer last night.

So sledding it was.

Of course, our old sledding hill is no longer viable, what with there being a new building sitting on it these days. Stupid hospital. Fortunately, the girls remembered going to a park with their Montessori school last year, so an alternative hill did exist. It did give us a bit of pause, though, that what they remembered most about it was an injury rate among sledders that rivaled that of professional rugby players.

And we found out why. Great googly moogly, what a hill.

This hill went straight down. It was covered with ice. It had random moguls and valleys. It had tracks that funneled you directly into said moguls and valleys. It had piles of snow at the end. It had squadrons of children sledding down it with reckless abandon. It was the perfect sledding hill.

I grew up in the '70s. We didn't have the internet then. Philadelphia only got cable television, what, last week? There were some political wrangles, what can I say. There was no ESPN, at any rate. So I got my baseball round-up from a Saturday afternoon TV program called This Week In Baseball, which would show clips of the week's games. The true high point of the show - what we 10-year-old-boys most looked forward to - was the inevitable montage of outfielders running into walls, baserunners colliding with fielders, and, of course, infielders getting surprised by ground balls that bounced just a little higher than they were expecting. "Oooh!" came the voice-over from host Mel Allen, "that's GOTTA hurt!"

This was Mel Allen's hill.

We joined in the reckless abandon festivities with, well, reckless abandon. We abandoned. Recklessly. It was cold, wet, and painful. But surprisingly fun, especially with the prospect of cocoa at its conclusion.

It was simply impossible to come to a graceful stop at the end, and eventually we gave up trying and simply planned on being a snow-covered tangle of limbs whenever we would come to a skidding halt. This assumed that we actually made it to the end through the moguls and valleys, a dicey proposition at best. They were bouncy. They were boomy. Lauren did a full flip in the air and came down on her nose. Tabitha was covered in snow and ice. Kim's shoulder still hurts. My socks fell apart due to the freeze/thaw cycle. But a grand time was had by all, and the cocoa was good.

Ah, the joys of the great outdoors.

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